Déjà vu - Ros Casares face Spartak In Final

10 April 2010

Ros Casares have the crowd, and the talent.

It remains to be seen is if they have the mental fortitude to dethrone three-time defending champions Spartak Moscow Region in Sunday's EuroLeague Women Final.

For much of Friday night's first game, it seemed UMMC Ekaterinburg were going to be a third-time lucky against Spartak, the side that had beaten them at the previous two Final Fours in Brno and Salamanca.

7. DeLisha Milton-Jones (Ros Casares), 10. Elisa Aguilar (Ros Casares), 12. Anna Montañana  (Ros Casares)
DeLisha Milton-Jones led the way for Ros Casares in an easy win on Friday night.
They led by three points at half-time and by four with eight minutes remaining.

UMMC's France international Celine Dumerc had shut down Spartak's Sue Bird, arguably the top point in the world the past few seasons.

Bird had a game-high six turnovers and missed all four of her shots from long range.

And with UMMC getting points from everyone, including USA forward Candace Parker, victory seemed to be within their reach midway through the fourth quarter.

But Spartak's defense, and a lack of offensive execution by Ekat for more than four minutes, saw Pokey Chatman's team pull away for an 87-79 triumph.

"I always say those are the best wins," said Diana Taurasi, who scored 33 of her 37 points in the first three quarters for Spartak.

"It's always easy to win when you play well, and things are going your way.

"Nothing really went our way. We had to find a way.

"We get a lot of credit for the offensive side. To be able to win that many championships, you have to be able to stop people."

With Ros Casares destroying Wisla Can-Pack Krakow in the second Semi-Final, a rematch of the 2007 Final was assured.

At the front of everyone's thoughts in Valencia is Taurasi.

If they can lessen her impact, Ros Casares have a chance to capture the title.

"Taurasi is the best player in the world and she's very difficult to stop," Ros coach Isma Canto said.

"I don't like it when a team depends so much on one player.

"If Spartak have been champions three times, though, in great part they owe it to her."

Spartak won the title game between the two sides three years ago, 76-62, a contest in which Taurasi drilled four of six three-balls and finished with 24 points.

Delisha Milton-Jones of Ros Casares also played well, scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

While Spartak went on to win the next two titles, Ros missed out on the 2008 and '09 Final Fours.

Last year, Spartak needed three games to beat Ros in their Quarter-Final.

However, the Ros Casares of 2009-10 is playing with more of a swagger and looks like a team that's capable of going all the way.

"The experience back then has allowed us to grow into a better team," Milton-Jones said.

"We still have the same core group of players and know how we want to play.

"We have a different coach (Canto) with a new system and we're going to implement that into the game plan and hope for the best."

Ros Casares under Canto is a team that wants to play as quickly as possible.

"Now we play Spartak," Milton-Jones said.

"It's a team we respect a lot, but it's not a team we fear because we're good, and they're good. So we're going to give them the respect they deserve and play hard."

"Every year has been a little bit harder," said Taurasi, the 2009 Final Four MVP in Salamanca.

"This year will be the hardest. It's going to be a tremendous challenge."

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